USB drive backup software


Automatic USB Backup

- Program Manual -

July 2013


screenshot in action


  1. Important Links
  2. System Requirements
  3. Terminology
  4. Installation
  5. Configure a USB device to do Backup
  6. Program Operation
  7. Program Structure (Advanced)
  8. Typical Usage Scenarios
    1. Backing up a Local Computer
    2. Synchronizing Multiple Computers
    3. Restore
    4. Selective Restore
    5. Copying the program to a new USB device and keeping the same settings
    6. Encrypting Archive Data
    7. Mirroring Files Across Multiple Computers
    8. Backing up data already on the USB device to the local hard drive

1. Important Links

  • The latest version of this manual is available online here.
  • Program updates are available here.
    (Registered users, program updates are available from a button within the program, in the Advanced/About section)
  • General online support (FAQ, tips) is available here.

2. System Requirements

Microsoft Windows 7, Vista or Microsoft Windows XP
Will run on Windows 2000 but user must click to disconnect USB drive

Microsoft .NET Runtime 2.0
You MUST have this library installed in Windows XP system, in Vista and Window 7 do not install this library no longer. The Automatic USB backup installer currently downloads and installs the Microsoft .NET2.0 framework if its not available on the users system. Or you can click here to download it manually, or if that does not work do a web search for "microsoft .net runtime download" to find the download site at Microsoft.

3. Terminology

Item - a file or directory

Archive - the set of items on your USB device that you have backed up / synchronized there

Local Items - the items you wish to backup/synchronize, usually on your local hard disk.

4. Installation

Installation is started by double-clicking the AutomaticUSBBackup.exe icon. You must install the software with this file on each and every computer you wish to perform automatic operations on (however, you do not need to install the software if you just want to access a previous backup - you can do this by simply browsing your USB key in Windows Explorer / My Computer.) In addition, the Automatic USB Backup Portable edition no need to install and runs directly on any portable devices such as a USB flash drive or portable hard drive.

If you do not have the Microsoft .NET 2.0 Runtime Libraries installed, the installer will attempt to download the library from Microsoft. If it succeeds, the library will start installing the .NET Runtime after you exit the Automatic USB Backup setup. If there are any problems installing this library, Automatic USB Backup will not run at all. If the Automatic USB Backup setup program fails to install the library, we suggest trying to install it manually by downloading it from Microsoft, here. If that link does not work, do a web search for "microsoft .net runtime download" to find the download site at Microsoft.

When installation finishes successfully, Automatic USB Backup should start. If it does not, go to Start Menu / Program / Automatic USB Backup, and selected "Configure New USB Drive". This is the program you will run each time you wish to prepare a new USB key to use the program.

5. Configure a USB device to do the Backup

To prepare a USB device for use with the program, select "Configure new USB device" from the Start Menu in the Automatic USB Backup folder. Use this shortcut whenever you wish to prepare a new drive for automatic operations, or if you wish to update the software on an existing drive.

This link will bring up the Drive Setup Wizard. If your USB device is not already plugged in (and turned on) please do so.

The wizard is straightforward and will walk you through the options you may configure about the program. Any option you choose can be changed within the program at a later time.

One thing to note - when you are checking the files you wish to backup/synchronize in the file tree, you may notice that when you check an item in My Documents, that a checkmark also appears in, for example, c:\Documents and Settings\John Doe\My Documents\. Although the same items are checked in two places, the actual item is only backed up once. This is because 'My Documents' and 'Desktop' are just links to areas on your hard drive (somewhere on c:\, d:\ etc..) We have included a separate link for My Documents and Desktop to make it easier to navigate to these common areas of important documents.

When the Wizard is complete, you will be prompted to remove your USB device, then insert it again to begin your first automatic backup/synchronize.

6. Program Operation

After you have configured your USB device, unplugged it, then plugged it back in, the program should start automatically.

Note: you may see an additional "AutoPlay" program pop-up. This is a built-in Windows program and can be disabled by Automatic USB Backup (this was an option in the Wizard. If you chose for it to be disabled in the Config Wizard, you must reboot for this to come into effect.

If you wish to interrupt the operation being performed, you may click STOP at any point.

If you want to stop the program from running when you insert your USB key, hold down the SHIFT key when you insert it.

If you wish to stop the program from automatically performing an action when you insert your USB key (but still want to run the program), hold down the CTRL key when you insert the drive.

The program starts by default in the simple interface. To access any advanced functionality or settings, you must click the Advanced checkbox in the bottom left corner of the program window.

7. Program Structure (Advanced Users)

The program installs the following files into the specified install directory:installed files


Note the location of the deleted files folder. This is where the program places any files it may have to overwrite during the course of operating - as one last-restore backup area. When this area exceeds the size limit, it purges files in chronological order, oldest first.

Below is the file structure the program creates on each USB key:

file structure

You can customize the archive directory but not the BackupUSBConfig folder, as this exact path is needed for automatic operation.

Note that the type of archive the program creates is simply a direct file system copy of the items on your local drive. Therefore, if you know the location of the file you wish to recover on your hard drive (say, C:\SPREADSHEETS\REPORT.XLS) you will always know where in the archive to locate it (say in Windows Explorer) (in this case E:\BackupUSBArchive\C\SPREADSHEETS\REPORT.XLS).

The contents of the BackupUSBConfig folder is listed below:


The important file to note is config.xml. This file contains all the settings and paths for the program to run. If this file is missing from the current directory then the program will run in Drive Config Wizard mode.

8. Typical Usage Scenarios

Listed below are the main types of functionality Automatic USB Backup supports. If these do not cover the way you would like to use the software please email us a suggestion!

Common Usage: 1. Simple Backup

Backup copies your items from your local drive (usually your computer's hard disk) to your USB device. There are several different modes of backup behavior.

Advanced / options are:

Incremental - Overwrite older items - only new or updated items are copied to the archive.

Mirror - Replicate all changes items - Make Archive exact same as the specified drive files.

Overwrite all items - every local items is copied to the archive. Those items that already exist in the archive are overwritten.

Time Stamped - each time the USB drive is inserted into the computer a time-stamped directory containing the specified drive files will be created.

Copy only new - files are never deleted or overwritten from the archive. Only files on the local drive that do not exist in the archive are copied over.

Completely new archive each time - in this mode the archive is completely deleted from the USB device, and the local files are copied over producing a fresh new archive (slow).

Common Usage 2: Synchronizing two or more computers

The program can be used to synchronize items across multiple computers. It is extremely important in this mode to ensure all the computer's clocks are in synch. If all the computers are connected to the Internet full-time there is a good chance they will be in synch, since Windows XP supports online time synchronization.

In this mode the program looks at the time and date stamps of files on both the USB device and the local computer. The items with the most recent date are then copied to and from the USB device, ensuring the local computer and USB device contain the latest versions of all the files.

In this way, you can be working on say a Word document at work, plug in your USB device with Automatic USB Backup on it in Sync mode, and it will copy this document to the archive.

If you then take the USB drive to your home computer, and perform a Sync, even if you have an older version of the same Word document on your home computer, the software will know to overwrite that old version at home and use the latest one from your work.

A couple of things to note about Synchronization:

  1. The file locations must be the same across all computers you wish to sync. That is if you want to sync "C:\My Documents" at your workplace with home, then at home you must be working in the "C:\My Documents" folder. If it is not possible to have the same path at both locations, create a directory common to both computer, say "c:\sync", and copy files to and from there that you wish to synchronize.
  2. You must install Automatic USB Backup on all computers you wish to synchronize. However, you only need to run the Drive Setup Wizard ONCE for the USB device you are using to synchronize. You to not need to run the Drive Setup Wizard on each different computer."

Common Usage: 3. Total Restore

This mode is intended to be used only rarely - such as in the case when you have a complete hard drive failure and you wish to restore your entire backup set.

Remember when you click this button you restore the ENTIRE archive - so it makes little sense to do this if you're only needing to restore a single file.

This button gives a warning, which can be disabled in Advanced / Options.

NOTE: For the AUTOMATIC RESTORE MODE you must first make a 'backup' of the date you wish to automatically restore. The best way to do this is to click 'Advanced Options' or hold down CTRL when the program starts up. Then click 'BACKUP'. From that point on the program will automatically restore (that is, copy to the local folder from the USB drive) files on USB drive insert - great for distributing files.

Common Usage 4: Selective Restore

User can conveniently browse the current archive from within the program, and check certain files to be restored.

However, we recommend that you restore the files manually using Windows Explorer, by using the browse button. Specifically, you should browse to the file you wish to restore, open it up to check to make sure this is indeed the version of the file you wish to restore, and then copy it manually (cut and paste) to the local destination.

Common Usage 5: Upgraded to a new USB device and keeping the same settings

You may wish to perform the exact same backup/synchronize, but on a new USB device. (say you upgraded from a 512MB key to a 20GB portable hard drive.)

To duplicate your settings on the new device, simply copy over the \BackupUSBConfig folder from the old device to the new device, and everything should work exactly the same as with the old device!

Encrypting Archive Data

The portability of USB storage devices is a great asset when it comes to backing up your data. But something that is portable is also easily lost or stolen, and this has serious implications when it comes to securing your files. If you are backing up your private or sensitive data, you should also employ a security strategy to mitigate the potential harm that could come from losing a memory key in a public place.

TrueCrypt is a free open source on-the-fly encryption (OTFE) program for Microsoft Windows XP/2000/2003 and Linux. It allows one to create a virtual encrypted disk (TrueCrypt volume) within a file and then mount it as a real disk. Everything stored on a TrueCrypt volume is entirely encrypted (i.e., including file names and folder names). The encryption algorithms used by TrueCrypt are AES (U.S. government standard), Blowfish, CAST5, Serpent, Triple DES, and Twofish - powerful stuff. The software is popular and completely open source - so you don't have to worry about the software becoming obsolete and not being able to unlock your data.

It is extremely simple to use TrueCrypt with Automatic USB Backup:

  1. Use TrueCrypt to create a TrueCrypt volume within a file on your hard drive.
  2. Add this file to your Automatic USB Backup backup set.

*Note: In order for Automatic USB Backup to successfully backup the encrypted file, it must be unmounted from TrueCrypt first.

Mirroring Files Across Multiple Computers

This is simply the AUTOMATIC RESTORE feature.

Backing up data already on the USB device to the hard drive

This mode has 3 behaviors you can define:

1. Incremental - backup only new and updated files on the USB drive to the local computer

2. Complete - backup all the files from the USB drive to the local computer - overwriting existing copies

3. Time Stamped - each time the USB drive is inserted into the computer a time-stamped directory containing the specified USB drive files will be created.


<document end>